Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Galactic Destroyer

TPM reader MM on the singularity that is Trump:

He’s coarse, crude, rude, shallow, tacky, belligerent, repulsive, utterly self-absorbed, utterly unsubtle, a pathological liar, and willfully ignorant in many areas of knowledge that are critical to any viable candidacy for the highest office, but he is not an idiot or a fool, or unable to control his impulses. So the question is what, exactly, does Trump want? What is his goal? He will never occupy the Oval Office and, despite his monstrous, deformed ego, I’m pretty sure he understands that. So what is his real game?

Trump is the active galactic nucleus of the GOP primary campaign, a billion-Gingrich-mass political black hole, sucking everything near him through his event horizon, converting it into deadly radiation that makes him visible from anywhere in the political universe, and sterilizing if not incinerating any other candidate unlucky enough to inhabit his political galaxy.

Today Krugman (in his blog) quotes Corey Robin on conservatism and goes on to say, “It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars. The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open.”


I never thought I’d say these words, but I’d be interested to know what Cheney is thinking.

The Republicans finally have a candidate who will say out loud what they have been wink-winking nudge-nudging for decades.  Whereas the Mike Huckabees and Newt Gingrichs have dealt in dog whistles, Trump is the blaring Klaxon: keep out the brown people, stomp all over the minorities, bring on the boors, with a heaping helping of dictator thrown in.  “I am your savior, I know all the answers, I will rescue our nation from the teeming hordes, and anyone who defies me will be dealt with swiftly and severely.”

As for Cheney, he’s probably wondering why he didn’t try it this way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hallelujah Trail

Ted Cruz found himself upstaged by Donald Trump on immigration, so he’s heading down another path.

Cruz, looking to gain traction in an early voting state with a heavy concentration of evangelical Christians, held a highly organized and produced “Rally for Religious Liberty” Friday night. The rally featured live music, interviews with people who said their religious liberty was violated and sermon-like speeches from Cruz, who tried to cement himself as the candidate of choice for evangelical voters in a crowded Republican primary field.

“There is a war on faith in America today,” Cruz said, later noting that 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home during the 2012 election. “I’m here to tell you, we will stay home no longer,” he said as the audience, which filled a ballroom and the campaign estimated to number 2,500 people, cheered.

As an example of the “war on Christians,” Mr. Cruz posed a hypothetical situation: what if gays discriminated against evangelicals?

Imagine if this were inverted. Imagine if there were a gay florist — now I know that’s hard to imagine, a gay florist — but just go with the hypo[thetical] for a second. Imagine if two evangelical Christians came to a gay florist and they wanted to get married, and the florist said, “You know what? I disagree with your faith. I have problems with your faith.” You have no entitlement to force that florist to provide flowers at the Christians’ wedding. We are a pluralistic nation that tolerates diversity.

Actually, there is a law that would force the florist to provide flowers to the wedding.  It’s called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it protects people from discrimination on the basis of religion in public accommodation such as renting a hotel room or selling goods.  It does not, however, protect people on the basis of sexual orientation, which seems to be fine with Mr. Cruz.

Now that Donald Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the room in terms of nativist xenophobia, he’s got to find some place to go.  The Pat Robertson side of the street seems to be his only option.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It Only Works For Starving Playwrights

Sorry, Rick Perry, but you can’t run a campaign without paying people.

Former Gov. Rick Perry’s (Texas) Iowa chairman is stepping down, delivering another blow to the GOP contender’s 2016 presidential bid.

Sam Clovis cited the campaign’s financial struggles, noting that he left in part because he is no longer being paid, the Associated Press first reported.

“I feel bad for the campaign and I feel bad for Governor Perry because I think he’s a marvelous human being, he’s a great man and it was my honor to be a part of this, but it was just time to move on,” Clovis later told the Washington Post.

One of Iowa’s most prominent conservatives, Clovis said he has been offered spots on “several” rival campaigns over the last two and a half weeks, and expects to sign on with one of them in the next few days.

He’ll probably sell his services to Donald Trump.  I hear he has some money.

Yet More Minority Outreach

From TPM:

When asked if he thought his repeated use of the term “anchor babies” – a derogatory term for children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant parents – Bush said: “What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts, and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country and having children in that organized effort.”

Oh, so he wasn’t talking about Hispanics; he was just dissing the Pacific Rim.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Monday, August 24, 2015

You Keep Using That Phrase

ThinkProgress on the origins of a term that has become popular with with Republicans.

The GOP presidential campaign kicked off with real estate mogul Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants being rapists and drug dealers, and quickly evolved to endorsements of changing the Constitution to strip millions of immigrants of their citizenship. Now, presidential candidates have a new angle on the immigration debate: Targeting the children of foreign-born parents as so-called “anchor babies.”

The term “anchor babies” has long been relegated to the realm of ultra-conservative arguments against allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. But recently, the phrase has been widely used by Republican lawmakers as part of a clarion call to repeal the 14th Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to every child born on U.S. soil, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

Mr. Trump champions the phrase and compounds it by by making the demonstrably false statement that only the United States grants birthright citizenship.  (Canada and most of Latin America also grants citizenship to children born in the country.  Why else would Ted Cruz have had to renounce his Canadian citizenship last year?)  Jeb Bush manfully asks “What would you call them?” even after he served on a committee that called for the disuse of the term.  (Hillary Clinton replied via Twitter: “They’re called ‘babies.'”)  Bobby Jindal, the pathetic example of “me-tooism,” is “happy to use it,” perhaps because he is the one closest to being a child who would have been called such so he’s using self-hating deflection.  Scott Walker has been all over the place on it, using the term one week and then, predictably, changing his mind on it the next.  Only Marco Rubio has stood up to condemn the term, so even a blind squirrel can find his nuts.

Like “death panels” or “religious liberty,” it has become a buzzword in the presidential campaign, but it’s also a dog whistle to the kind of people that the party needs to draw in for their base.  Those would be the xenophobic and racist-tinged white males who are big talkers about the Constitution and freedom but are all too happy to junk the parts they don’t like in order to keep living out their gun-stroking fantasies of their perfect world when life wasn’t so complicated, people knew their place, and calling someone a racist or sexist epithet didn’t mean their reality show got cancelled.

If those are the kind of people the Republicans think they need to win a presidential election, we’ve got a lot bigger problem than immigration and what to call people who in any other place would be called citizens.

Exit Strategy

So who will be the first Republican to formally leave the field?

DC Whispers says that Chris Christie will be gone by the end of August.  Rick Perry is running on fumes and not paying his staff.  Rachel Maddow had Rand Paul heading for the locker room based on his troubles within the Kentucky GOP, and a while back I thought that Rick Santorum would be out by now.  But look for one or two of those to suspend their campaign by Labor Day.

There are legal reasons why a candidate would only “suspend” their campaign rather then really pull the plug.  Once you end it, according to the FEC, that’s it; you can’t have a Ross Perot moment and come back like a zombie if the field suddenly looks good for you without having to start all over from scratch.  Suspending it doesn’t end it technically, but it’s like a relationship when you say “honey, let’s cool it for a little while.”  It’s all over except for getting your toothbrush back.

There will be some campaigns that will limp along even though there’s no chance whatsoever that they’ll get anywhere; Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham fall into those categories, but that’s because they’re small enough that they don’t need all the oxygen of a Christie or Paul campaign, and they’re hoping to get noticed for a VP nod.  They’ll still be looking for attention by the time the convention gets to Cleveland next summer.

But who do you think will be the first to go?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Reading

Not Funny Anymore — Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone on the dangers of Donald Trump.

So two yahoos from Southie in my hometown of Boston severely beat up a Hispanic homeless guy earlier this week. While being arrested, one of the brothers reportedly told police that “Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported.”

When reporters confronted Trump, he hadn’t yet heard about the incident. At first, he said, “That would be a shame.” But right after, he went on:

“I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.


Trump is probably too dumb to realize it, or maybe he isn’t, but he doesn’t need to win anything to become the most dangerous person in America. He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is.

Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone – the government, immigrants, political correctness, “incompetents,” “dummies,” Megyn Kelly, whoever – for their problems.

Karl Rove and his acolytes mined a lot of the same resentments to get Republicans elected over the years, but the difference is that Trump’s political style encourages people to do more to express their anger than just vote. The key to his success is a titillating message that those musty old rules about being polite and “saying the right thing” are for losers who lack the heart, courage and Trumpitude to just be who they are.

His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox’s Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals” could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve been challenged by so many people,” Trump answered. “I frankly don’t have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn’t have time either…. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico…. We lose to everybody.”

On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump’s most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.

But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media’s most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.

Tale of the Tapes — Nina Liss-Schultz in Mother Jones on falsity of the Planned Parenthood tapes.

Since undercover videos that captured Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donations were released last month, GOP officials in more than 10 states have clamored to launch investigations into the organization. On Tuesday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joined that group, ordering her state’s health department to review the policies and practices of all abortion clinics in the state, including the three operated by Planned Parenthood.

“These practices are not consistent with the laws or character of our state,” Haley wrote in her letter to the state agency tasked with regulating abortion clinics, adding that it “cannot allow an organization with broken internal oversight and a flawed corporate culture to behave the way Planned Parenthood has in other states.”

In the videos, recorded surreptitiously and released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood officials talk frankly about the organization’s tissue donation program and the costs associated with donating fetal tissue from an abortion. Though fetal tissue donation is a long-standing and legal practice in the United States, and has contributed to medical advancements like the polio vaccine, conservatives have used the videos to attack the health care organization, saying they provide evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from the sale of aborted fetuses. And they’ve pushed for investigations to unmask this purported criminal wrongdoing.

But so far, those investigations are falling flat. Completed probes in GeorgiaIndianaMassachusetts, and South Dakota have spent thousands in taxpayer money but turned up no evidence that Planned Parenthood is trafficking in the sale of fetal tissue. And in most of the other states that have launched investigations—including OhioArizonaTexas, and Kansas—Planned Parenthood affiliates don’t even have fetal tissue donation programs, making it hard to believe the states will find any illegal activity related to the practice. In Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered an investigation in mid-July, Planned Parenthood does not even operate a single abortion clinic.

“In every state where these investigations have concluded, officials have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation, told the Huffington Post. “We’ve said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has very high medical standards, and that’s what every one of these investigations has found.”

Breakfast of Champion — Richard Sandomir in The New York Times reports on the petition to get Greg Louganis on a Wheaties box.

When Julie Sondgerath learned from the premiere of the HBO documentary “Greg Louganis: Back on Board” this month that Louganis, the transcendent Olympic diver, had never been on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box, she started a petition drive on to demand that General Mills correct an omission that has lasted more than 30 years.

She had watched a scene almost midway through the film in which Louganis is looking at a display of Wheaties boxes with Olympic athletes on them: Amy Van Dyken, Laura Wilkinson and Brooke Bennett. All deserving. But where was Louganis?

“Never got a Wheaties box,” Louganis, with a shrug and a reluctant smile, says in the documentary.

“It kind of broke my heart,” Sondgerath said by telephone from Chicago. “This is a guy who did everything right. He trained from his teens. He went to the Olympics. He won silver in 1976. He won gold in 1984 and again in ’88. He did everything right.”

Casual sports and Olympic fans might not be able to name another diver — a reflection of his superiority and the sport’s relatively modest profile. Still, Louganis is quite possibly the greatest ever at his sport. He won gold medals on the three-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform in each of those Summer Games.

But Wheaties’s recognition escaped him in 1984, though not Mary Lou Retton and Carl Lewis. Four years later, he won the same events but was again ignored by Wheaties.

Homophobia would seem to be the only reason that Louganis was denied the simple cereal-box accolade. He says so in the documentary, even if the filmmakers could not present anyone from General Mills who would agree. A spokesman for the cereal-maker said that nobody from that period was left to discuss the decision-making.

There were rumors that Louganis was gay in the 1980s, when only his friends, family and the swimming community knew. He came out publicly at the Gay Games in 1994 but did not acknowledge until the release of his autobiography the next year that he had tested HIV-positive before the 1988 Olympics.

Out of fear, Louganis did not inform the doctor of his condition when he treated the bloody wound caused when Louganis hit his head on the springboard during a preliminary dive.

Louganis’s on-camera shrug suggests an acknowledgment that being ignored by Wheaties should be placed in a 1980s context — during the early years of the AIDS epidemic and decades before court rulings led to same-sex marriages like his own.

Doonesbury — School choices.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Kasich Attacks Teachers

Oh, so John Kasich is the “moderate” and not prone to extremism, huh?

While some Republicans have called for abolishing the federal Education Department, Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday set his sights on a smaller target: the teachers’ lounge.

“There’s a constant negative … They’re going to take your benefits. They’re going to take your pay,” Kasich told former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, whose advocacy news site “The 74 million” hosted the forum along with the American Federation for Children.

If I were, not president, if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us’,” Kasich told Brown.

Yeah, because teachers have it so easy — they get the summer off! — and all they do is piss and moan about how tough things are with their low pay, long hours, crumbling infrastructure, and wingnuts imposing fairy tales into the curriculum because Jesus.

Sounds like Gov. Kasich needs another dose of taking on the unions.  It worked so well for him that last time.

HT to Digby

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Take Him Back

As was noted yesterday, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio would both flunk the “natural born citizenship” test as being put forth by those who are advocating for the end to birthright citizenship.  So would Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  But Mr. Cruz, too, is “absolutely” in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

I just think it’s ironic that the people who would probably have the toughest time reassuring their constituents that they’re real ‘Muricans are the biggest mouths for shutting the door on people who have a stronger claim to being citizens than they do.

As for Mr. Cruz, he had to actually fill out a form to renounce his birthright Canadian citizenship last year.  I would suggest that the good people of his native land take him back; it would be just desserts for sending us Justin Bieber.  But I really like my Canadian friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Screw The Poor

The Republicans have never stopped campaigning against Obamacare and now the candidates in the presidential race are drumming up the “repeal-and-replace” meme.  Two of them, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, are out with what they say are plans to replace the law, Mr. Walker going so far as to say that the first thing he does (presumably after nuking the Iran nuclear deal) is to send Congress a bill to R & R Obamacare.  (Note to Mr. Walker: the president does not propose legislation.  He can suggest it, but Congress initiates bills.)

At any rate, both proposals from the erstwhile healthcare reformers would get rid of popular parts of the bill such as eliminating caps on how much care the insured can receive or keeping children on their parents’ plans to age 26.  But most importantly, it would strip away a lot of coverage for the poor and give it to the rich.

Governor Walker’s plan appears to be less generous for many poor Americans. It would roll back the Medicaid expansion that has provided free insurance to low-income adults. It would distribute tax credits to those with private coverage on the basis of age, not income. Such a system would be far simpler to administer: Every person 50 to 64 would be given $3,000 to spend on health insurance, while everyone 18 to 34 would get $1,200. Older people tend to have higher health care costs, and are charged higher insurance premiums, the argument for the age-based subsidy system. But it means that for people without a lot to spend on insurance, a comprehensive health plan may slip back out of reach. For others, an affordable plan might be so bare-bones that it wouldn’t kick in before a major health catastrophe.

Wealthier people, on the other hand, could fare better under this plan, as long as they’re healthy. They would get more federal money to buy insurance plans, and they would have the choice of buying cheaper, less comprehensive plans than those offered under Obamacare rules.

The plan could make it harder for people with prior illnesses to buy insurance. Under Obamacare, insurers have to offer the same products and charge the same prices to customers of the same age, regardless of their health histories. The Walker plan would offer similar protections for people who remain insured for their entire lives. But anyone with a major gap in coverage could later be either priced out of the insurance market or disallowed from buying certain health plans.


The Rubio plan shares some of the basics, but offers fewer details. His editorial says people would get tax credits to buy insurance, but he doesn’t specify how those tax credits would be calculated or what would happen to people with pre-existing health conditions.

The problem with repealing Obamacare is that it’s already become a part of the fabric of American life.  Five years in and millions of people getting coverage would make it well nigh impossible for anything to happen to it without a major upheaval in the insurance industry and throw millions of poor people out of their insurance plans.  To the Republicans, that’s a feature, not a bug.

Sycophancy and Self-Loathing

Gov. Bobby Jindal:

We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Mr. Jindal is the son of Indian immigrants who came here on his mother’s student visa.  In other words, he’s in favor of ending the constitutional right that made him eligible to run for president.

Oh, yes, he said “illegal” immigrants.  But I seriously doubt that the people who believe we should trash the Fourteenth Amendment are going to split hairs over immigrants who came in on a student visa and had a baby.

I’m sure there are all sorts of psycho-babbly reasons why Mr. Jindal so desperately wants to be liked by people that think he’s unworthy of citizenship, but he’s just embarrassing himself.

Marco Rubio is in the same boat, so to speak.  His parents arrived in the U.S. in 1956 (no, they weren’t fleeing the Castro brothers; they left during the regime of the previous brutal dictator) and were not citizens when Mr. Rubio was born in 1971.  He too is in favor of somehow putting an end to birthright citizenship:

“I’m not in favor of repealing the 14th Amendment,” Rubio said during a Tuesday news conference at the rain-soaked Iowa State Fair. “But I am open to exploring ways of not allowing people who are coming here deliberately for that purpose to acquire citizenship.”

Shorter version: I got mine; screw you.

What’s even more shameful is that Mr. Rubio once co-sponsored the bipartisan immigration bill that included a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.  But when he realized that would hinder his appeal to the knuckle-dragging know-nothings in the GOP base in his run for the presidency, he turned on the bill to gain their favor.

Neither Bobby Jindal nor Marco Rubio will become president, but frankly who would want to have such weak-willed men in office who would sacrifice both the Constitution and their own family history just to get elected.

Bonus: Paul Waldman at the Washington Post wonders if the Republicans gave away the election of 2016 by landing on the birthright citizenship issue.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Constitutional Dissonance

Shorter Scott Walker on immigration:

We must enforce the law by violating the Constitution.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says we should “reexamine” birthright citizenship as if it is some nebulous policy promulgated by liberals to pack the voting booths with immigrants who have yet to learn to walk.

What is it about people who say they revere the Constitution but have no trouble distorting it, ignoring it, or shredding it to fit their political motives?  If it’s not citizenship as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment, it’s the simple declaration that all citizens are entitled to the equal protection of the laws, also in the Fourteenth Amendment, that gave us marriage equality.  Yet somehow that is unconstitutional.

They’re also not wild about the First Amendment protecting people from the establishment of religion because, of course, it’s only meant for Christians.  They also believe that it protects people from being fired for denying marriage licenses to people they don’t like and from networks cancelling reality shows because one of the members of the family that breeds like rabbits is a pedophile, and that the Constitution guarantees “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  No, it does not.  That’s from the Declaration of Independence, which was a resolution passed by the Continental Congress, which went out of business before the Constitution was written.

But let’s be fair.  If we’re going to revisit various parts of the Constitution, let’s talk about the Second Amendment, shall we?

Monday, August 17, 2015

As Seen on TV

I’m trying to be selective in the number of posts I do on Donald Trump, but I couldn’t pass this one up.

From Sunday’s Meet the Press:

TODD: Who do you talk to for military advice right now?

TRUMP: Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great… you know, when you watch your show, and all of the other shows, and you have the generals, and you have certain people you like.

TODD: But is there somebody, is there a go-to for you? You know, every presidential candidate has a go-to…

TRUMP: Probably there are two or three. I mean, I like Bolton. I think he’s a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about. Jacobs is a good guy.

TODD: You mean Ambassador Bolton?


That’s right up there with “No, I didn’t go to West Point, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night…”

Trump on Immigration

Donald Trump has a plan to control immigration, and it’s as xenophobic and as unconstitutional as you can get without actually invoking the Nuremberg laws.

Business mogul Donald Trump released an immigration plan this weekend almost exclusively focused on enforcement and cracking down on unauthorized immigrants, including preventing babies born in the U.S. to undocumented parents from U.S. citizenship as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

The GOP presidential candidate also repeated a vow to end President Barack Obama’s deportation relief policies for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. He would instead deport those mothers and fathers, he said. Trump insisted it could be done without separating families — a claim that, although he does not say so explicitly, would effectively mean forcing out children with the right to be in the U.S. if they wanted to remain with their parents.

“We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a “Meet the Press” interview that aired Sunday.

The wingnuts love it, of course, because America Fuck Yeah!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Not A Good Deal

Jeb Bush:

I’ll tell you, taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.

No, it wasn’t.  No matter how you spin it, it was a bad deal.  Even the people of Iraq think they were better off before with a secular dictator than they are now with a weak and corrupt propped-up regime.  Certainly the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, if they could speak from the graves from Arlington to Baghdad, would not say it was a “pretty good deal.”

The only good deal to come from this is that the more Jeb! talks about Iraq and the legacy of his brother and father, the more we are reminded that he should not become president.

George Will: Who Invited The Boors?

George F. Will is positively beside himself that the crass and tacky Donald Trump has invaded his garden party.

He is an affront to anyone devoted to the project William F. Buckley began six decades ago with the founding in 1955 of the National Review — making conservatism intellectually respectable and politically palatable. Buckley’s legacy is being betrayed by invertebrate conservatives now saying that although Trump “goes too far,” he has “tapped into something,” and therefore. . . .

Therefore what? This stance — if a semi-grovel can be dignified as a stance — is a recipe for deserved disaster.


Conservatives who flinch from forthrightly marginalizing Trump mistakenly fear alienating a substantial Republican cohort. But the assumption that today’s Trumpites are Republicans is unsubstantiated and implausible. Many are no doubt lightly attached to the political process, preferring entertainment to affiliation. They relish their candidate’s vituperation and share his aversion to facts. From what GOP faction might Trumpites come? The establishment? Social conservatives? Unlikely.


Soon the campaign will turn to granular politics, the on-the-ground retail work required by the 1.4 percent of the nation’s population that lives in Iowa and New Hampshire. Try to imagine Trump in an Iowa living room, with a macaroon in one hand and cup of hot chocolate balanced on a knee, observing Midwestern civilities while talking about something other than himself.


So, conservatives today should deal with Trump with the firmness Buckley dealt with the John Birch Society in 1962. The society was an extension of a loony businessman who said Dwight Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” In a 5,000-word National Review “excoriation” (Buckley’s word), he excommunicated the society from the conservative movement.

The Republican Party of George F. Will and William F. Buckley created the environment that hatched the Southern Strategy and their Confederate flags, the Christian Coalition and their religious bigotry, and the Tea Party with their low-education crowd of dog-whistling racists, all with the smug idea that they could control them and bend them to their will at the voting booth, then blithely dismiss them like the hired help when it came time to run the country.

Mr. Will, you created Donald Trump.  You deal with him.  And if you can’t well, then, in the words of your nemesis, “Later, losers!”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Lure of the Loser

Commenter JB at TPM:

Trump’s comments are erratic, but I think at bottom he is very disciplined and always on his message: “I win.” Everything he does and says builds on this same core pitch, which he laid out in his opening campaign speech:

Do you feel like a loser? Well, guess what, you should. You are losing. We are losing. To the Mexicans. To the Chinese. To Iran. To bossy women. To Everybody. It is not morning in America; we suck right now. You suck.

Are you tired of it? Are you fed up with being a loser? Are you tired of getting pushed around and getting your ass kicked? Do you want to win (again)? Instead of losing, would you rather kick ass, be the boss, sleep with models and get rich? Then vote for me. I win. I kick ass. I get rich. I marry models but kick them out if they give me any lip. I tell people I don’t like to shove it on a daily basis and I never, ever apologize.Let’s win again. Let’s kick ass together. Let’s Trump. …..

This isn’t a new tactic for a politician.  Telling the masses that they are the downtrodden, the forgotten, the loser, has been around as long as there have been political campaigns, and it’s a seductive message that works.

History is littered with the remains of dictators and demagogues who used it to rally the torches and pitchforks brigade, and it feeds on prejudice and exploitation.

Campaigns like this end with body counts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Id Factor

I watched Donald Trump give a news conference from Birch Run, Michigan last night.  Whoever said it was right: he’s like the Comments section of a free-for-all political blog came to life.

There’s no gradation to anything he says; something — name it — is either perfect or it’s a disaster.  Mention someone he’s running against and they’re a total loser, presumably because they suggested that he’s not the ideal candidate for the Republicans.  There’s no filter, no nuance to The Donald.  He speaks without any control.  Psychiatrists call it the id factor; in this case it’s the “I, Donald” factor.

His answer to everything is that he’s winning in the polls.  But it’s the summer before an election year, and right now Teddy the Wonder Lizard would be leading in the polls if he got up on stage and insulted everyone and scattered the pigeons.  It’s a time when people aren’t thinking seriously about the presidential race and the only reason they’re even bothering to answer the pollsters is because they’ve got nothing better to do (and the second season of True Detective was a big let-down).  Hell, if I got called in a poll, I’d say I’m for Trump just to mess with the GOP.

I know he’ll never be president; he won’t even get the nomination.  He’ll get bored and lose interest and find someone else to annoy.  I just hope he stays in long enough to truly screw the Republicans out of any chance of winning.

Today in Chutzpah

Headline in the New York TimesBush Blames Clinton and Obama for Iraq’s Decline.

Seriously?  Has he talked to his brother about this?  Does he forget that there was this little thing called the Status of Forces Agreement that the last Bush administration signed that basically said that U.S. forces would get out, and when the Obama administration tried to renegotiate it because Iraq was falling apart, the Maliki government refused to go along?

Or how about this: We wouldn’t have been there in the first place if George W. Bush and his minions hadn’t lied, misstated, and bullied their way into the war?

Piss off, Jeb!